The outboard craze. The phenomenon. The obsession. Whatever you want to call it, the boating world’s current love affair with this engine is not going anywhere soon. While builders of larger-scale, Downeaststyle boats—think MJM, Back Cove, Vanquish and Hinckley—have been strapping these motors to hulls for years, boutique builders have been in less of a hurry. Now, companies such as Williams, Ellis, Huckins, Manchester and Wilbur are designing outboard boats as well as inboard versions. Here’s how some of these builders are getting in on the action.
John Williams Boat Co. in Mount Desert, Maine, is basing its Williams 29 on its Somes Sound 26, an open, inboardpowered launch built on a conventional, molded fiberglass hull. The 29-footer is a center console dayboat with wood trim, fore and aft seating, and 4-stroke outboard power.
“We collaborated with Doug Zurn Yacht Design to transform our Somes Sound 26, which is based on an Old Port Marine Launch hull,” says Jaime Weir, general manager at the company. “We wanted to give the 29 the same feel as the 26, but with more modern components and updated power plants.”
Plans for the Williams 29 show a generous tumblehome and a sheerline that rises dramatically to the bow, which has hard chines flanking a soft entry. Dark blue topsides, brightly varnished wood coamings and expanses of white give the 29 a Herreshoff-style look.
Hull number one will be built after a buyer is found. Weir says owners can choose single or twin outboard motors, from 150 to 425 hp. With 300 hp, he says, the boat’s expected topend speed is 36.5 knots.
Having the outboard power, says Weir, improves the onboard experience.“Getting the engine out of the boat allows us to free up space to make larger lounges and include a head under the console. Customers also like the shallower draft and that you can tilt outboards up to beach or untangle lobster pots. Maintenance is less complicated—in most cases—than it is with an inboard. And, when it comes to repowering down the line, it’s a simple matter of removing the old engines and bolting on new ones.”